Summer Dental Care for KidsBy Dr. Cameron Smith
Now that summer’s here, it is absolutely normal to see your kids enjoy a bit of down time and indulge in a little bit of laziness after the psychological drain of school and all that brings – including sports, clubs, and other organized activities. With them staying around the home, they also have more access to sweets and junk food.
And while it’s OK To indulge them a little bit, there are certain things that, as a parent, you must stay on top of – specifically your child’s dental health.
As a kid, it is so easy to completely relax and forget about all the things you do during a school schedule, and that includes regular oral hygiene. And while you may not risk serious damage or lifelong concerns by missing a session or two, you set a bad precedent that will be hard to get back into – and that reality will set your child up for poor oral health in years to come.
Meanwhile, there could also be a whole pantry or freezer full of sugary snacks ripe for the picking. And if you combine those two factors together, your kid could be in for a rude awakening at their next dentist’s visit.
Therefore, summer dental care is crucial. Here are a few simple things you can do to keep your child’s dental health at full strength over the days and weeks of summer:
Stock your home with healthy foods
We all like some ice cream during those blistering hot days, and it is fine to have sodas now and then. What you do not want is to have your kids gorging on these type of junk foods every day, multiple times a day.
The simplest way to ensure this is by not buying any junk food. But that’s not always realistic, and we totally get that. That’s why we recommend you buy it in moderation and talk to your child about not eating it to excess.
Let them know that those types of snacks can lead to serious dental issues if consumed in excess. Encourage them to avoid sugary snacks as often as possible, as well as to avoid sodas or sports drinks unless necessary (if they are exercising in the heat or training with a school sports team this summer, that may not always be avoidable). Encourage them to drink water after consuming any sugary substance – it will help rinse their mouths and provide a little more protection after an indulgence.
Ultimately, however, you should stock your home with as much healthy food and drink as possible – including calcium-rich snacks, such as cheese and low-sugar yogurt.
Constant snacking is also bad for your child’s teeth, as their mouth needs a break at intervals during the day to rest and allow their natural saliva to wash their teeth and help make them stronger.
Maintain a dental health routine
While it’s OK to let them sleep in and stay up a bit over the summer, it is vital that your children continue to brush twice a day and floss at least once a day. And that responsibility lies with you. Think back to how you were when you were young – did you make it a point to remember to brush and floss every day? While some kids may not need prompting, the vast majority will need a gentle reminder to get in the bathroom and take care of their teeth – instead of just hopping in bed. Making sure that your child maintains their dental care during the summer can help eliminate any complications, and keep them smiling!
One way to help enforce this – and provide a little quality time with your kids, especially the young ones, is to brush alongside them for two minutes twice daily.
And when it comes to flossing, you may need to help them, as kids don’t always have the motor skills to properly floss until around age 10.
If you can stick to that routine, it will maintain a strong oral health base for them – and make your job easier as they grow up, as they will be so used to it, they won’t need as much prompting to maintain that routine through their preteen and teenage years.
Don’t slack on vacation
By the way, that includes maintaining a routine through the various vacations and road trips you may take this summer.
The best way to do this is by ensuring your child packs a new, clean toothbrush that he or she can open on the trip and make it something of a new experience – to go along with the adventure of travel.
You can also grab some gum that is sweetened with xylitol for use during the trip. Xylitol is a nonfermentable sugar alcohol that can provide several dental health benefits while not encouraging cavity growth. It won’t fully replace brushing, but it will help clean food particles off your teeth while also improving your breath. Travel, especially by plane, can put you in a pinch logistically, and xylitol gum can act as a support to your summer dental care.
Make sure kids have a dental visit set for the fall
The absolute best way to ensure your child’s oral hygiene is to have a dental professional check them out, and you can keep them going strong by setting up a visit to coincide with the start of the school year.
This will allow your dentist to identify any problem areas and make sure they get addressed as they get back into their nine-month routine.
Don’t derail your kids’ dental health!
The next few weeks are just as important to your child’s dental health as the last nine months, so don’t treat it any differently!
If you need some help, are worried about your child’s dental health, or just want more information, please contact the professionals at BGW Dental Group. Our dentists and hygienists understand how to work with kids and make their experience both fun and rewarding. A trip to us is something that kids enjoy, rather than dreading. In fact, we make it our mission to keep your entire family healthy – no matter their age or situation.
If you would like to learn more about summer dental care, simply call us today at one of our three north Georgia locations: Braselton (470) 310-8662, Gainesville (678) 944-8295, or Dahlonega (706) 864-1275.